Police Blotter

Campus officers confront Sutherland thieves

Lea Kopke

More stories from Lea Kopke


Photo by Submitted

The following information was obtained from UW-Eau Claire Police Department records.

The Sutherland sign stealers

At some point between 3:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 7, a campus officer was conducting an ALICE active shooter presentation inside Hibbard Hall when a “Police Training in Progress” sign was stolen from the first floor hallway. The police officer spoke with custodial staff and other people inside of Hibbard, but no one had any information regarding whereabouts of the missing sign. At this point, no case number was issued.

At 8:35 a.m. on Dec. 5, a second campus officer was walking by Sutherland Hall when he noticed a “Police Training in Progress” sign sitting in one of the dorm room windows. He then went back to the police station and brought the first officer with him to Sutherland to confirm the sign was still in the window. After taking photos from the outside of the building and reviewing floor plans, the two were able to find the room number where the sign was located.

At 9:25 a.m. the officers went into Sutherland to make contact with the residents of the room. After knocking, the two heard a male voice inside the room asking who was at the door. The officers stated, “Police,” and the resident said he did not believe them. Eventually a male subject opened the door. A second male subject could be seen inside the room.

The first officer introduced himself and asked if the residents consented to the officers entering the room. The first subject denied them consent because “he valued his privacy.” The officer explained he was there to recover the stolen police sign.

From the doorframe, the officers could see not only the police sign, but also an orange traffic cone and a yellow custodial “Wet Floor” sign. Each object had black marker drawings on them. The first officer asked if the subjects would step outside their room and bring the three suspicious objects with them.

The first officer spoke with Subject 1 as the second officer spoke with Subject 2 around the corner. Subject 1 admitted to taking the police sign one month prior, and also being responsible for the theft of the orange traffic cone from a different city in Wisconsin. He told the officer Subject 2 had taken the wet floor sign. When the officer spoke with him about taking items that belong to someone else, the subject said he did not understand why the officer was looking into the theft, and asked him if he had anything better to do.

When asked, Subject 2 first denied bringing any of the three items into the room, stating they had all appeared over the last couple of weeks. He did, however, admit to writing his name on the wet floor sign and the orange cone. After the two officers spoke with each other, the second officer again asked Subject 2 about the origin of the wet floor sign. At this point, the subject confessed to taking it from a hallway inside Sutherland.

The officers took all three items and told the subjects they would contact them at a later time to discuss consequences, as Subject 1 had class at 10:00 a.m. The officers contacted the police department from which the traffic cone was stolen, and they requested the cone be destroyed. They were given the name of the subject, and the police department stated they had dealt with the man in prior instances.

That afternoon, the first officer met with Subject 1 in Sutherland. He issued him a citation for Theft Under $100 with a fine amount of $295.00 and a non-mandatory court date for his theft of the police sign. He also gave him Subject 2’s citation, which was for Theft Under $100 with a fine amount of $295.00 and a non-mandatory court date for his theft of the wet floor sign. Subject 1 agreed to deliver Subject 2’s citation to him.

Hijinks in Horan Hall

At 6:35 p.m. on Dec. 8, a campus officer was dispatched to Horan Hall for a drug case after a Resident Assistant smelled marijuana in one of the hallways.

The officer met with the RA, who gave him the general location at which she smelled the odor. The officer could immediately smell marijuana as he walked into the indicated area. As he was walking towards the suspected room, the officer saw a male subject open the door and spray air freshener into the hallway. The subject saw the officer, set the air freshener down inside the room, and then exited and attempted to walk past the officer.

The officer approached the subject, and asked if he could speak with him inside his room. The subject said they could talk in there. As the two entered the room, the officer could smell a strong odor of marijuana. At this moment, the subject’s roommate was not present.

The officer explained to the subject he was there because of the odor of marijuana. The subject denied smoking in the room. As they were talking, a second subject entered the room. He was identified as Subject 1’s roommate, and he told the officer he had left the room several hours ago and had just returned.

The officer asked if Subject 1 had any marijuana in the room, to which he responded he did. Subject 1 retrieved a bag of marijuana from his top desk drawer and the officer took possession of it. Subject 2 denied having any marijuana in the room.

After receiving consent, the officer searched both sides of the room. He found a small glass pipe in Subject 1’s desk drawer and a bag of marijuana with rolling papers in Subject 2’s desk drawer. He also found several bottles of alcohol and cans of beer in the room.

The officer had the two subjects pour out the alcohol. He then explained the Eau Claire County Diversion program to them. Both subjects agreed to participate in the program, and the officer helped them sign up for a date. The officer then left the building and brought the confiscated items back to the police department.

Kopke can be reached at [email protected]